Kids Cafe program makes healthy eating accessible

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) — An after school snack program is aiming to fight childhood hunger by providing healthy food options to kids.

The Kids Cafe program is run by Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and supplies fruits and vegetables to its cafe locations, many of which are in neighborhood or community centers.

One of those locations began in 2009 in the East Madison Community Center. The center provides a fresh after school snack for kids every weekday at 4 p.m., ranging from melon, to peanut butter and celery, to carrots, and much more.

The Kids Cafe program is one way Second Harvest is hoping to alleviate childhood hunger.

“In the 16 counties that are served by Second Harvest, we know that about one in six kids actually struggles with hunger,” said Kris Tazelaar, Communications Manager for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. “Those are the kids we’re trying to serve, because we know how important it is to make sure that as they’re growing up, they have access to enough fresh and healthy and nutritious food because that’s ultimately going to make their lives better not only now, but in the years to come.”

De’Kendrea Stamps, the center’s Assistant Director, said that providing snacks is important because for some kids, the only meals they receive are at school.

“There are lots of incidences in low income and minority households where there’s obesity and there’s health issues, and all these different things,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re teaching our kids about how to have access to fresh and healthy items.”

Introducing fresh fruits and vegetables into kids’ diets is also a way to steer them away from junk food and unhealthy snacks.

“I’ve seen a big increase in the amount of fruits and vegetables we go through,” said Sarah Schwab, Assistant Youth Program Director at the East Madison Community Center. “It used to be they didn’t want to try it, and now we’re running out of carrots left and right because they want seconds and thirds.”

Those second helpings can mean a second chance for kids to just be kids.

“We know it can make a difference between a passing grade on a test, it can make a difference between whether they’re healthy, whether they’re not healthy, whether they ultimately can succeed in life,” said Tazelaar. “And we know that one more meal is so important, and that’s why we have kids cafes to try to help with that.”

One More Meal is the inspiration behind the 2018 theme of NBC15’s Share Your Holidays campaign to eliminate hunger.

This content was originally published here.

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